dir. James Vanderbilt
written by: James Vanderbilt
starring: Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Dennis Quaid, Elisabeth Moss, Topher Grace
2.25 out of 4 stars
I had a bizarre notion that Cate Blanchett was going to pull in elements of her Oscar winning Blue Jasmine role for the sophisticated but challenged Carol Aird in this year’s magnificent Carol. Of course, Todd Haynes would have never allowed one lost moment in his gorgeous film. Give this potentially disheveled actress to a director less in tune with Blanchett’s talents, he will mistakenly bring out Blue Jasmine memories in a movie where they shouldn’t belong. Debut director and continued screenwriter James Vanderbilt, despite his surprisingly good script for Zodiac, fumbles in formulating another news media bonanza with Truth, an investigation of the George W Bush desertion scandal that led Dan Rather (Robert Redford) and Mary Mapes (Blanchett) to career ending results.
Mapes enters the film flustered and Jasmine-esque, desiring pills to calm her nervous heart. The impending investigation into the formulation of their high profile story waits in another room and her preparations are coming to a close. Blanchett tears into the unimpressive script and the remaining two hours are already predicted: this will attempt to be Spotlight, but this will make all the wrong decisions. Fortunately, it was not as much of a misstep as predicted, but it certainly does not meet the tense procedural of Tom McCarthy’s film. The portrait of this eager but mislead team is admirable for present imperfect, even flawed, characters suffering under the hubris of their leader Mary Mapes.
The ensemble presented ample promise: besides Blanchett and Redford, we had Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Elisabeth Moss, Bruce Greenwood. Such a talented cast cannot go far without the material to test them. They meld well with what they are given, and their conviction does not waver, until the shit hits the journalistic integrity fan. The movie gained particular momentum once the scandal arises, Mape’s smug assurance dwindles in her fall, and people start getting thrown under buses left and right, turning this movie into a whodunit blame-fest with a hint of “how’d it happen”.
Thankfully, Redford was a strong casting as Dan Rather, performing with utmost humility and passionate, controlled anger; his fatherly narrative is most crushing upon his resignation, the best scene of the mostly drab movie. Blanchett, where overly hostile, is still one of the most talented people starring in movies; it’s not her best, but neither was the movie itself. Tamper down some of the personal drama, and the professional importance could have shown through. I wonder what would have happened if the movie had waited until after Spotlight. Would it have proceeded differently?